A 10-year-old Black boy who was arrested for public urination will no longer have to serve probation or write an essay on Kobe Bryant after a Tate County, Miss., judge withdrew the punishment on Monday.
Senatobia police officers arrested the third grader on Aug. 10, 2023, when they saw him urinating in a public parking lot beside his mother’s car while she was inside an attorney’s office. His mother said officers put her son in a police car and drove him to the station where they put him in a jail cell.
After his arrest, Judge Rusty sentenced the boy to three months probation and ordered him to write a two-page book report on Kobe Bryant.
But the boy’s mother refused to make her son fulfill the probation requests. Harlow held a hearing on Monday and agreed with her, dismissing a Tate County Youth Court petition that said her son needed placing under supervision.
The family’s attorney, Carlos Moore, is accusing the officers of violating the child’s 4th and 14th Amendment rights.
“This case will be instructive on how to treat all individuals, including Black, young individuals who may have committed a minor infraction,” Moore told the Mississippi Free Press on Monday. “I believe everyone is entitled to due process and equal protection under the law.”
Moore said he plans to file a lawsuit against the City of Senatobia, the officers involved and Senatobia Police Chief Richard Chandler. Race was a key factor in the boy’s arrest, Moore alleged.
“I’m 99.99% sure that a white child would not have been arrested for public urination under the same circumstances,” Moore told the Mississippi Free Press.
In a public statement on Aug. 21, 2023, Chandler said the police department fired one of the officers involved in the child’s arrest and disciplined the others. The department holds annual juvenile-justice trainings, he added.
“The officers’ decisions violated our written policy and went against our prior training on how to deal with these situations,” the chief said in a Facebook post.
The Mississippi Free Press called the Senatobia Police Department for comment Monday afternoon but could not reach anyone at the station.